Saltford Environment Group
Artistic impression of Saltford Station by Joe Ryan. © Saltford Environment Group 2011.
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Saltford Station Campaign
Potential for Saltford station as an additional stop being tested
After discussions and lobbying of B&NES Council the Saltford station campaign team learned on 1st December from B&NES Council's Divisional Director of Environmental Services that within the timetabling work for Metro West Phase 1 the potential for Saltford Station as an additional stop within this part of the GWR network is being tested.
We shall report on this again when we hear further news.
Saltford Station questions and answers at the B&NES Cabinet meeting, 14th Nov
Two questions concerning Saltford station were asked by Councillor Neil Butters (Lib Dem) for the B&NES Cabinet meeting on 14th November. The answers from Cabinet member for Transport, Councillor Anthony Clarke (Cons), are shown here also:-
Q 12. I understand that the MetroWest Phase1 GRIP 3 Timetable Analysis remit specification only proposes a sensitivity test for "inclusion of call at the proposed Saltford Station". Was it an officer or a Cabinet member who made the decision to exclude Saltford Station at the outset from the substantial study?
A.12.This was an officer decision taken at the MetroWest Phase 1 project board. I and the Leader have met with both GWR and the Saltford Parish Council to understand the technical challenges with this work. It is very frustrating that it is still not clear that a timetable is possible that would support a new station at Saltford. This difficulty has been discussed with the Parish Council on a number of occasions. A new station to serve the communities in and around Saltford is included within the Joint Transport Vision published by the West of England; this is something for which I have personally argued.
Q 13. Has any Cabinet member contacted GWR and/or Network Rail directly seeking progress of the timetable analysis in relation to Saltford?
A 13. As noted above I regularly meet with GWR and at the last six or so occasions I have specifically requested that time-tabling work should be undertaken. Officers have also requested the information.
Station Campaign questions B&NES Council's commitment to station
In an article in the 4th of August edition of local newspaper The Week In Saltford Station Campaign leader Chris Warren says he has been overwhelmed at the support from the majority of the community in Saltford to the campaign to reopen Saltford station but raises his concern that support has not been forthcoming in action, rather than words, from B&NES Council. Of particular concern is the omission of Saltford from the MetroWest timetable studies.
The campaign will be stepping up its efforts to encourage B&NES Council to match the support given to re-opening the station by our local MP Jacob Rees-Mogg. Two representatives met with B&NES Council Leader Tim Warren on 10th August where an assurance was given that B&NES Council would pursue investigations for timetable space for a half-hourly stop at Saltford in the context of the new MetroWest service.
The article can be found on page 20 of The Week In (issue no. 434, 4.8.2016) from this link: The Week In, Issue 434 (pdf on external site).
B&NES Council maintains its aspiration to open a station at Saltford
The following is an extract from B&NES Cabinet background papers for its 10th February meeting (Metro West Phase 1 Update Report):-
"The Council has an aspiration to open an additional station at Saltford, which can potentially be achieved after Metro West Phase 1 has been implemented. However, it is dependent upon the Metro West Phase 1 project delivering a workable timetable that will improve services at Keynsham and Oldfield Park to a half-hourly frequency. Unfortunately, the above GWR timetable work for Phase 1 has been delayed by a couple of months. As soon as this work has been completed the Council can then continue to undertake further feasibility work on the Saltford Station proposal."
SEG submits comments for West of England Joint Transport Study
On 27 January 2016 SEG submitted comments to West of England Joint Transport Study. The local councils of Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire were seeking people's views on how and where transport should be provided over the next 20 years as part of the Joint Spatial Plan.
Our comments were as follows:-
Saltford Environment Group strongly supports the development of the Metro West rail project and re-opening a railway station at Saltford as part of Metro West.
Saltford Environment Group recognises that transport congestion and a reduction in air quality is already a major problem at peak periods for existing settlements and communities. Saltford is a typical example as it has high levels of traffic congestion at peak times and part of the A4 through Saltford has been designated an Air Quality Management Area due to periodic and dangerously high levels of Nitrogen Dioxide from vehicles. For that reason, improved transport solutions should be developed to cope with existing problems quite apart from serving new housing developments all of which should be located close to public transport and main centres of employment to reduce commuting times and distances.
To help encourage healthier lifestyles and less use of the car, especially for commuting, we recommend that the creation of more cycle paths and the joining together of existing cycle paths should be a priority for all local authorities in the West of England. More locally to Saltford, a cycle path along the Keynsham bypass (A4) should be a priority to enable cyclists to safely use that route into Brislington and Bristol whilst moving east towards Bath a cycle path from Saltford along the A4 to join the cycle path from the Globe Inn along the A4 dual carriageway would be a worthwhile project to implement.
Parish Council and Saltford station
At its monthly meeting on 5th January Saltford Parish Council unanimously agreed the following request that it would put to B&NES Council:
Saltford Parish Council reminds B&NES Council of its role since 2011 as the official promoter of the station and asks B&NES Council to make an effective and renewed commitment to engage with the West of England Local Transport Body, GWR and Network Rail to seek the re-opening of Saltford station and to make every effort to secure a place for Saltford station in the Metro West timetable.
Saltford Parish Council notes that the public leaflet produced by the West of England Partnership Metro West - Investing in our local rail network (June 2014) stated that a Saltford Station could be in Metro West phase 1 subject to the business case. Saltford Parish Council therefore wishes to express its concern that B&NES Council did not seek to include Saltford Station in the current Metro West timetable studies being carried out by GWR on behalf of the West of England Local Transport Body. Saltford Parish Council wishes to express its dissatisfaction that reasons given for this include comments on time-table constraints which would have been better determined by Saltford actually having been included in these studies.
Saltford Parish Council notes that while alternatives need to be considered as part of the Department for Transport's TAG (Transport Analysis Guidance) process and also to fulfil a past resolution of B&NES Council, there remains a consensus that the existing site is the preferred site option.
Latest campaign situation report
The Saltford station campaign team's latest situation report (briefing paper) brings together the recent positive developments towards getting our station reopened. The report can be found on this page under Campaign Resources.
Important rail electrification news
At the Network Rail in Saltford on 15th December at St Mary's Church Hall information was shared with residents about the planned works at and near Saltford as Network Rail continues to prepare for the electrification of the main-line. Passengers will notice structural changes to the platform and canopies at Keynsham station beginning in January 2016.
Keynsham station and the line itself will be closed from 2nd to the 10th of April 2016 whilst the track bed and platforms are lowered and foundations laid for the overhead electric pylons. Replacement buses will operate throughout this period. Fortunately, and thanks to Brunel, Saltford Tunnel underneath Tunnel House is high enough to accommodate the overhead cables and gantries without requiring additional engineering work.
The Network Rail website with more information concerning this work is at www.networkrail.co.uk/great-western-route-modernisation/.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Our thanks go to Parish Council Chairman Cllr Duncan Hounsell for providing this information.
Station Campaign and Parish Council addresses B&NES Scrutiny Panel (16.11.2015)
On 16th November Chris Warren for the Station Campaign and Duncan Hounsell as Chair of the Parish Council spoke in public time to B&NES Council's cross-party Communities, Transport and Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel to inform them about Saltford Station and to seek their assistance in their scrutiny role.
They asked that there be no unnecessary delay or insufficient pressure from B&NES Council on the half-hourly timetable question and that consultants be commissioned to take the project forward to GRIP stages 3 and even 4. They made the point that this not only about providing Saltford's commuters a gateway to the half-hourly Metro West services, but also playing a part in reducing road traffic into Bath and contributing to the economic development of this area.
The democratic mandate given in the Parliamentary, Council and Parish Council elections last May to reopen the station was highlighted and also the point that B&NES urgently required solutions to its chronic transport problems, especially with Bath's new Enterprise Zone and the riverside development nearing completion. Without alternatives to the private car, Bath was close to becoming stifled by traffic and its detrimental effect on air quality leading to public health issues.
Saltford Station Campaign scoops national award
Saltford Station Campaign has received a national award at the Railfuture conference "Rail Resurgence in the West of England" held at the Mercure Hotel, Redcliff Hill, Bristol, on 7th November. Railfuture is the leading national pro-rail campaigning organisation. The campaign received the Oliver Lovell Award (in memory of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group founder who died in 2013) for "Best New Group" and this was presented to Chris Warren of the Saltford Station Campaign by Christian Wolmar, President of Railfuture.
Chris Warren said "I was absolutely delighted to receive this award on behalf of the Saltford Station Campaign. To be recognised by Railfuture is just reward for all our hard work. This award gives the campaign a further boost. I ask the new B&NES Council to take the re-opening of the station to the next stage of project development without undue delay."
Cllr Duncan Hounsell, Chair of Saltford Parish Council, said "I congratulate the Saltford Station campaigners on this national award. The Parish Council fully supports the re-opening of Saltford Station which would give villagers a gateway to the half-hourly services of the Metro West rail project."
Judges' comments: "Campaign shows a sound knowledge of the rail industry and grasp of technical detail, good engagement with stakeholders' buy-in, cross-party support, a strong environmental message, and a good chance of success."
SEG's station campaign meets with B&NES Council
Representatives of SEG's Saltford Station Campaign, Chris Warren (Campaign Chair), Phil Harding (SEG Chair) and Rob Taylor (Campaign team member), had a constructive first meeting with the new Conservative administration at B&NES on 1 September to discuss the next steps in taking forward the ambition to reopen Saltford railway station. Present from B&NES Council were Cllr Tim Warren (Leader of the Council), Cllr Tony Clarke (Cabinet member for Transport), and Peter Dawson (Group Manager Transport & Planning Policy). Matthew Barnes from First Great Western was also present.
SEG underlined the democratic wish of Saltford for re-opening our station, expressed most recently in the Saltford Parish Council (76% turnout) and B&NES Council elections (May 2015) where all 11 elected Parish Councillors and the two elected ward Councillors for B&NES had taken a pro Saltford station stance as a priority issue in their election campaigns.
The meeting agreed that a decision was required from Network Rail to show that timetable provision of a half-hourly peak time service stopping at Saltford could be made within the existing and proposed long distance InterCity services. That information should be known by Christmas 2015 in the context of the current MetroWest feasibility work and discussions. A half-hourly service at peak times was required for making the financial case for reopening Saltford station; once this is known then B&NES Council would be in a position to proceed with GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) stages 3 and 4.
The notion of an alternative site for the station in the Green Belt was discussed. SEG reminded the meeting that (a) the elected Conservative B&NES Councillors and Saltford Parish Councillors were against Green Belt development, and (b) the GRIP process would ensure the optimum site was chosen. SEG also showed Network Rail's schematic plan for the signalling infrastructure work at the station site which included provision for the construction of the station (see plan above).
Since the meeting with B&NES Council on 1st September Network Rail, in response to an approach by Saltford Parish Council, has said that the responsibility rests with B&NES Council as a member of the West of England Partnership for seeking inclusion of Saltford in the timetable development for MetroWest. The Parish Council and SEG have asked B&NES Council at Official and Member level to pursue this so that work on GRIP 3 and 4 can proceed without further delay.
Re-signalling project at Saltford station site
Residents might notice some limited construction work taking place at the Saltford station site (see picture).
Network Rail has assured the Parish Council that:
"The construction, which is for the Bristol re-signalling project, has been positioned to allow for the Saltford station."
"Network Rail is aware of the third party aspiration to reopen a station at Salford. As part of our planning for electrification and other infrastructure enhancements, we endeavour to take into consideration such future aspirations to ensure that our works do not preclude or incur additional works to enable these ambitions to be achieved. Therefore, I can confirm that the current signalling works will not preclude the re-opening of Saltford Station."
New Parish Council votes unanimously to back the re-opening of Saltford station
On Tuesday 19th May the newly elected Saltford Parish Council voted unanimously on the following motion:-
"Saltford Parish Council supports the principle of re-opening Saltford Station whilst mindful to address any concerns. Saltford Parish Council welcomes the fact that £250,000 has been included in the budgets of B&NES Council in order to take the project development forward to Network Rail's GRIP stages 3 and 4. Saltford Parish Council asks that B&NES Council commission this development work at the earliest opportunity. Saltford Parish Council's preferred site is the existing site. This Council does not wish to place any constraints on this development work but asks that it is consulted about options before final decisions about Saltford Station are eventually made."
Plotting progress of the First Great Western franchise improvements
If you want to see the progress reports for the First Great Western franchise improvements, click on this link: GWR Maps - DfT.
Steam train (Black Five 44932) passing through Saltford Tunnel
This evocative photograph was taken in 2014 by SEG member Jon Godfrey and shows Steam Locomotive Black Five 44932 emerging from Saltford Tunnel westbound towards Bristol. When the rail electrification infrastructure has been put in place in the near future, this view will look completely different once the electrification of the line is completed and the overhead lines and their associated gantries etc. are in place.
We have featured the photograph on our Station Campaign Historic Archive & photo gallery of Saltford Station's past, the purpose of which is to remind and record the important part our original station played for the local community.
B&NES Council votes to fund next steps for Saltford station
On 17th February the full B&NES Council took the vote for the 2015/16 budget as recommended by the Lib Dem Cabinet and this was passed. The good news for our campaign to reopen Saltford station is that the £250,000 within the budget for taking the station forward to Network Rail's project design stages GRIP 3 and 4 (£100,000 in 2015/16 and a further £150,000 in 2016/17) has thus been approved.
Cross-party support for Saltford station
With the 2015 General Election now only a few months away, it is important to remind our supporters that the station campaign is politically neutral and we enjoy support from all three main political parties for the objective to re-open the station on the existing site.
The support we have received (in alphabetical order by political party) is shown here:-
The petition was delivered by campaign members to our local MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, at the House of Commons on 19th April 2012. He then formally presented our petition to the House of Commons that evening at 6.38pm; and in his statement to the House he urged "the Government to take all possible steps to ensure that Saltford station is re-opened".
Jacob has also told the campaign that he was happy to make any representations on the campaign's behalf. On 6th January 2015 he said: "I support the efforts of the Saltford Environment Group who have been championing the reopening of Saltford station for a number of years. There are numerous benefits for the local community in reopening the station, including the possibility of reducing the cost of the commute to Bristol or Bath, simplifying logistics for local businesses and reducing traffic on the roads."
In May 2012 B&NES Councillor Mathew Blankely (Cons) told Radio Bristol's Steve Yabsley "how proud we all are in Saltford" of Saltford Environment Group's "outstanding work... the campaign has gone from strength to strength."
On 8th November 2014 the leader of the Conservative Group of B&NES Councillors, Cllr Tim Warren, made the following statement to the station campaign:
'We are fully supportive of opening a train station for Saltford and the surrounding community. However, whatever location is decided upon, the concerns of residents over traffic, access and parking issues will need to be addressed. As a party, we are committed to reducing traffic congestion.'
Todd Foreman, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for North East Somerset, met Chris Warren, Duncan Hounsell and Phil Harding of our Saltford Station Campaign during the summer to hear the case for the reopening of Saltford Railway Station and to see the Bath Hill site.
Todd, on hearing the news in November 2014 that B&NES Council was proposing to fund stages 3 and 4 of Network Rail's GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) process, said:
"I support reopening the train station at Saltford. Having visited the site, I have seen first hand how opening a station in Saltford is feasible and makes good sense. Many residents in and around Saltford commute to Bath or Bristol, so opening the station in Saltford will give residents more options to use public transportation."
Some Saltford commuters currently have to drive to Keynsham station to use the train service from there and some of our residents collect/deliver rail passengers at Keynsham. Todd said: "A station in Saltford would also be good news for Keynsham, as it should relieve some of the pressure on traffic and parking around Keynsham's train station."
Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for the North East Somerset Constituency, has given her full backing to the campaign to reopen Saltford railway station as part of MetroWest. Wera said:
"Improving public transport and making sure that people have easy access to it, is a key ambition for Liberal Democrats in Saltford. To reopen the railway station and incorporate Saltford into a new improved link between Bristol and Bath is a fantastic plan. This project is gathering more and more support and it has my full backing!"
On 4th November Cllr David Bellotti, B&NES Lib Dem Cabinet Member for Community Resources, at the B&NES Budget Fair meeting in Bath said that the Council was "very committed to Saltford station" and announced £250,000 in the proposed Lib Dem budget for 2015/16 to take the reopening of Saltford station forward to Network Rail's GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) stages 3 and 4.
Earlier station campaign news stories
Earlier news stories and pictures from the start of SEG's campaign can be found in our Campaign Archive.
Please continue to display the poster in your window to help keep the campaign in everyone's mind. If you need a fresh one contact Chris Warren or Phil Harding (see contact details on home page) - or print one off from the resources section below.
Click on these links to download (each will open in new window):-
* Illustrated paper promoting and stating the environmental, social and economic case for reopening the station.
Campaign promotional materials
You can download from here a one page poster to print off and stick in your window:- Saltford Station - Let's bring it back! poster (pdf, opens in a new window).
Our unique Saltford station campaign mugs (£5) and car/window stickers (£1) are available from Signs of Saltford, 559 Bath Road, Saltford, Bristol BS31 3JN (Tel: 01225 874037). You can order these via the internet at: www.signsofsaltford.co.uk/station.htm or arrange to collect from Signs of Saltford during office hours (please telephone first, cash payment preferred).
Background to the campaign and strategy
39% of the respondents to the 2009 parish questionnaire, when road fuel prices were significantly lower, said they would be likely to make regular use of a rail service from a reopened Saltford station.
Saltford station was closed in 1970 when significantly less people lived in Saltford. Early in 2011 the government announced it was going to electrify Brunel's Great Western Mainline from London Paddington through to Cardiff, i.e. a significant infrastructure project resulting in electric trains running through Bath, Keynsham and Saltford.
Saltford Environment Group saw this as a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity for Saltford that was too good to miss. Electric trains mean faster acceleration and deceleration leading to quicker timings and gaps in the timetable for reopened stations. Electrification and the simultaneous re-signalling of the line can provide the capacity for local trains to stop at Saltford.
Saltford Environment Group felt the time was right to start a campaign to get our station back. From our observations of public statements and our own discussions with key senior members of Bath and North East Somerset Council (the leader, Paul Crossley, and the cabinet member for transport, Roger Symonds) it was clear that they shared our view too. Railways are about the future of transport, not just the past.
With the ever increasing cost of private motoring, a reopened station gives the residents of Saltford a vital and environmentally friendly transport asset that will help 'future proof' the village against future price rises in oil and thus road fuel. Many residents commute to Bath, Bristol, London and beyond. Saltford has quite a large student population who attend universities all over the country. Many people visit the village; a railway station will give people the option to visit without using the car.
The Saltford Station Campaign team made representations to the West of England Partnership (WEP) Joint Transport Executive Committee concerning the inclusion of Saltford station in the Greater Bristol Metro project. The Greater Bristol Metro project successful bid to the Department of Transport in June 2012 included half hourly trains between Bristol and Bath and the reopening of Saltford station.
We see the station as a real asset primarily for the local community, not a vast 'Park & Ride' arrangement although we recognise that a reasonable amount of car parking should be provided for the station to be economically viable. The design and facilities of the station will need to respect the character and environment of our village and be sensitive to the quality of life for those residents living nearby.
Saltford's residents will be able to access the station on foot as there is a comprehensive network of footpaths that the Victorians put in place when the station was opened on 12th December 1840.
At its busiest, Saltford station employed 12 porters. It would be great to have our station back serving the village community as it did once before.
An important approach for SEG with this campaign has been to maintain a dialogue with Bath and North East Somerset Council and Network Rail as well as with local politicians (Saltford Parish Council and our local MP).
Network Rail's publication "Investment in Stations - A guide for promoters and developers (May 2011)" is a framework that provides information on the principles and processes for those wishing to reopen stations on Britain's rail network and has helped guide our campaign.
Involving the active support of residents in this campaign has been crucial. In addition to working with local media and the production of promotional materials (posters, stickers etc), we organised a village petition of all households in November 2011.
The agreement by B&NES Council to be the station "promoter", to fund and engage experts to work with Network Rail and the rail operator to build the business case (a 'High Level Option Assessment') for reopening Saltford station, was a major milestone reached in June 2012, as was the inclusion of Saltford station in the Greater Bristol Metro project at that time.
Our website provides a focal point informing all stakeholders of progress with the campaign to reopen the station. We publish our campaign news and plans on our website and regularly in the bi-monthly editions of SCAN (Saltford Commmunity Association News) that is delivered to all households.
If you want to see earlier stories from the start of the campaign including details of the petition visit our: Campaign Archive Page
Friends of Saltford station
Concerned about the environmental impact of the station once it's built?
SEG are very keen to stress that a new station built on the old station site must be sensitive to the quality of life for people living in the immediate vicinity.
We are not proposing the replacement of the existing eye-sore - currently the old station site looks like a dumping ground and has attracted metal thieves who turn up in vans to remove metal items stored on site - with a station that looks out of place with our beautiful village. Our archive & photo gallery for the original station (link) shows what an important part the station has played in village life in the past and we wish to see a modern re-creation of this community asset.
In addition to our wish to be actively consulted on the design of a new station, our early thoughts are that it would be beneficial to our community well-being to set up a "Friends of Saltford Station" group that can develop pride in our new station by
Members of SEG's Campaign Group have had an informal meeting (January 2012) with the Severnside Community Rail Partnership (link to their website) which works with local communities to deliver:
Once our station is built, the Severnside Community Rail Partnership will actively support a Friends of Saltford Station Group.
More thoughts and ideas on how Friends of Saltford station can become a reality will be posted on this website as they develop. Suggestions to help our thinking on this aspect are welcome.
Image copyright information. There were six original 1948 Nationalisation era Saltford station signs or 'Totems' at the station site. This digital image of the Saltford station totem was created by and belongs to Saltford Environment Group. It should not be copied or used without the prior-permission of SEG's Station Campaign. If you wish to use it please send details of your proposed use with your request (our contact email address is on the home page).
© Saltford Environment Group
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...visitors had the option to arrive in Saltford by train?
...I could guarantee getting to work or other destination on time by train, instead of agonising about the traffic on the road?
...motoring and bus travel becomes much more expensive and we haven't got a local option to travel by train?
...free bus passes are withdrawn and we've missed the chance to get our station back?
...a train station meant you didn't need to run a second car?
...congestion on the A4 increases but we had missed this opportunity to get our station back for local commuters?
...the chance to create a safer crossing point on the Bath Hill was missed?
...you could leave the car at home and travel to your destination from Saltford by train?
...an opportunity for more parking in the station car park for local residents was not taken?
...the station site was sold for a non-transport related purpose?
What would a reopened Saltford Station mean to you? Here are some typical comments from villagers who replied to our petition follow-up survey of daily users (Feb/Mar 2012):
"An extra 12 hours or more a week with my son. In addition, I currently spend in excess of £60 a week on parking. My journey is so often delayed due to road congestion that I am unreliable with my employer and my family commitments."